This month marks my four year anniversary working for Atlanta Film Festival 365, and it has been an incredible journey.
Being on the staff of this organization, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know many of you. As members, volunteers, teachers, sponsors, filmmakers, film lovers and especially as friends.
I’ve learned that one of our members, Paul, is a retired writer who still actively volunteers and is extremely proud of his grandson. Whenever I see him at a screening, I know he’ll one – have a huge smile on his face and two- he’ll always offer me an encouraging word.
I’ve come to know that our interns Rodrigue, Jessica, Heather, Vatrice and Jennifer, just to name a few (hey, I’m not forgetting the rest of you guys, I just have limited space here, you know I still love you all), are some of the most dedicated, talented, fun and interesting people I’ve ever worked with. They’ve lent their talents to other groups in town such as Wonderroot, ASIFA-Atlanta, Georgia Production Partnership, Bronze Lens, and the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. It’s been exciting to follow their growth as some have gone on to work for companies such as Turner and Dreamworks.
Almost monthly, I meet someone who credits ATLFF365 workshops and events as being integral to the start of their careers. One of the most encouraging stories was to get a phone call from a young man who was in our M.E.D.I.A. program when he was in high school, and now out of college he works in the film business. He wanted to know if he could come back to help us with any classes because he wanted to give back.
And volunteers? They’ve been the backbone that has made the Atlanta Film Festival and Atlanta Film Festival 365 possible. Many have demonstrated their dedication by putting in the same 14 hour plus days we have every Spring. I’ve even been witness to one volunteer forcing a staff member to go eat, saying they’d take over for an hour or two.
While here, I’ve watched ATLFF World Premieres like MAKE-OUT WITH VIOLENCE and GENERAL ORDERS NO. 9 conquer the festival circuit, winning awards and countless fans. I’ve seen the impact that shorts like LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED?, PRAYERS FOR PEACE and GRAMPA KEVORKIAN have had on the hearts and minds of audiences.
Every year, I’m eager to see what films we will discover and through those films, meet the filmmakers we now track as they move from project to project. To meet the filmmakers who we now count as friends and family.
These four years haven’t been easy though. As a non-profit that relies on sponsors, members and grants to keep our doors open, we started feeling the effects of a slowing economy early on.
Even as we come off a successful festival this year, we’re still falling short financially. It’s a position that no non-profit enjoys being in. Not when there’s so much to do and so much more it strives to do. For us, as we start to plan for the 2012 Atlanta Film Festival, as we begin to create our next lineup of events and educational programs, we want to dream big and bold, because this town deserves it.
It’s now that I personally want to reach out and ask that as we come to the last 6 days of our 365 campaign and our August 9 deadline, you consider donating what you can or become a member at atlantafilmfestival.com.
I’ve come to love this film community so much it’s difficult to express in words. Through the ups and downs, working for ATLFF365 has so far been the best and most important years of my life. I hope ATLFF365 has been the same for you. I hope it can continue to be. And I hope it will be far into the future. With your assistance, I know we can achieve that.
As the world of film continues to evolve and the line between film lovers and filmmakers continues to blur, I’m excited about where Atlanta Film Festival 365 can go and what it can become.
Programming and Industry Outreach